The Democratic senator from Ohio, Sherrod C. Brown, held a hearing Oct. 4 to embarrass Republicans, especially his wavering Buckeye colleague, into supporting Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R.-Ala.) is leading the fight to protect entrepreneurs actually building the economy from a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) onslaught.
Shelby rounded up 43 other Republicans to stop the Cordray nomination—or any nomination—until the President agrees to reasonable checks and balances on the bureau.
The key to holding the Shelby bloc together is Sen. Robert J. Portman (R.-Ohio).
Portman got the full Ohio treatment at the hearing, as Brown paraded fellow Ohioans to testify in support of Cordray, who is a former Ohio attorney general.
If Portman flips, then President Barack H. Obama Jr. will have the opening he needs to wedge off other Republicans, who don’t want to be targeted as heartless tools of big business by the Democratic attack machine.
Given the importance of Ohio in the 2012 presidential election, it is easy to treat this as a political football story. Conservatives must remember the genesis of this agency, and the peril it poses to free enterprise.
This is a clear case of a flawed nomination and a flawed agency—clearly a situation that is both too flawed and two-flawed.
Erstwhile Harvard Prof. Elizabeth Warren, now the anointed progressive to challenge Sen. Scott P. Brown (R.-Mass.), whose anti-free market diatribe sent the liberal blogosphere into a tizzy, designed the CFPB.
Unlike other progressives, who prefer to work in the shadows, Warren took up so much of the limelight in the ramp-up of the agency, a max-regulator, that there was no way the Senate would confirm her to become the agency’s director.
This setback for one progressive’s career just means she may do her damage in the Senate, but it certainly does not mean that her CFPB plans will go unattended.
The President has nominated anti-market activist Cordray to pick up the torch for the Warren program. Not surprisingly, Cordray made a name for himself picking winners and losers in Ohio and going after payday lenders on behalf of his supporters in the credit union industry.
The compliant press has all but ignored the fact that Cordray was a beneficiary of a “pay-to-play” scheme that filled Democratic coffers with campaign contributions from out-of-state litigators in exchange for allowing them to sue pension funds.
But who can really blame the press if Republicans have yet to scratch the surface of the scandal?
Warren’s anti-market vision not only has its own government agency ready to enforce her views—it has the man to aim the wrecking ball at private businesses if Republicans allow Cordray to be confirmed.
Warren and her congressional partners from the last session of Congress, Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.) and now-retired Sen. Christpoher J. Dodd (D.-Conn.) structured the CFPB deliberately with few checks and balances. The director is vested with incredible power to regulate the economy—with little or no way for Congress to rein it in.
The director of the CFPB will serve a five-year term and will be free to regulate any economic activity in the country that involves a financial transaction. Not exactly what the Framers meant when they called for a limited government.
For movement conservatives, the CFPB is nonnegotiable. Both the structure and the nominee are defective. In a democratic system of government, checks and balances against the power of an executive and his office are vital to freedom.
Senate Republicans need to hold the line.